MANILA – Two lawmakers at the House of Representatives on Thursday called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to grant the Covid-19 vaccines full approval to encourage the hesitant individuals to get inoculated.
Agusan del Norte Rep. Lawrence Fortun said the full FDA approval will enable the private sector, the private hospitals, pharmacies, and the doctors to order those vaccines directly without the need for any pact with the National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19.
"Noting the low vax rates in the regions, I throw my support to calls for the FDA issuance of full approval to the Moderna, AstraZeneca, Sputnik, and Janssen Covid vaccines," Fortun said. "Vaccine hesitancy would also lessen because of the impact of and confidence resulting from full FDA approval."
Fortun said waiting lines at vaccine venues will get shorter and move faster because those who go direct to the hospitals, doctors, clinics, and pharmacies no longer have to line up.
"Let the donated vaccines and procured vaccines be for the Filipinos who are poor, the low income, and some of the middle income. Let those Filipinos and companies who can afford to or chose to buy their own vaccines from hospitals and pharmacies get those vaccines," he said.
BHW Party-list Rep. Angelica Natasha Co echoed Fortun's sentiments, saying the commercial availability of Covid-19 vaccines will get more people vaccinated faster because citizens can get vaccinated with the doctors of their choice and without depending on the NTF and local government units (LGUs).
Co said the government must "triple their efforts" in ensuring vaccine equity among regions, citing October 18 National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC) data that 16 out of 17 regions in the Philippines have fully vaccinated less than 35 percent of their population.
"Look at the vaccine regional distribution chart they presented. The regions outside of NCR are so far behind. They must triple their efforts so that the vax targets are surpassed by March or April, so the voters can elect new and hopefully better leaders," Co said.
Co said the vaccine supply problem is not yet solved or over until the government finds better and faster ways to move those shipments from the warehouses to the vaccine centers.
Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., meanwhile, advised the LGUs outside Metro Manila not to worry about having sufficient vaccine supply in their areas as the government's distribution plan is already in place.
"If they are lacking the supply, meron tayong tinatawag na 'day-to-last' na 'pagka five days na lang 'yung kanilang day-to-last -- we will provide another so magkakaroon sila (we will impose the day-to-last scheme that if their supply will last only for five days, that's the time we will provide another) supply good for 15 days or 20 days and then, if they finished jabbing in 10 days, another supply will be coming in," Galvez, also the NTF chief implementer, said in an interview during the arrival of the oxygen concentrators donated by the Australian government.
The government has set up vaccine distribution strategies according to the logistical and vaccine handling capacities of the areas, he said.
Citing some challenges in the deployment, Galvez noted that these strategies will further prevent vaccine spoilage due to poor power supply, vaccine cold-storages, and jab expiration. (PNA)